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Publishing as Pedagogy by Jesse Stommel
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sindykids/3989867654/http://www.flickr.com/photos/sindykids/3989867654/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sindykids/3989867654/

Publishing and teaching can both terrify new academics, often to the point of paralysis. Their mutual support for one another is often frustrated by institutional demands. For example, the traditional workload split for full-time faculty at R1 institutions in the US is: 40% teaching, 40% research, 20% service. This division and its usual inflexibility highlights the ways that teaching and scholarly production are kept separate and distinct as forms. Yet, by looking at how publishing is teaching and teaching is publishing, we can lessen the anxiety around these activities and begin to notice how they are, in fact, co-constitutive practices. More than that, we can start to think about the open ends of these aspects of our work. The word “publishing” often implies some sort of finality, research that is finished or complete. This misses something vital about academic work.

This article on PhD2Published, “Publishing as Pedagogy” by Jesse Stommel, is both implicitly and explicitly linked to “Pedagogy as Publishing” by Charlotte Frost on Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal on Teaching & Technology. As publishing venues, both PhD2Published and Hybrid Pedagogy, work to build scholarly community by creating open and ongoing conversation.These twinned articles, which were written together in a Google Doc, combine to introduce communities, points of convergence, and to create a collaborative dialogue on publishing and pedagogy from two complementary perspectives.

Since I first started teaching in 2001, I’ve spoken the words almost like a mantra, “my scholarship and teaching are married.” And it isn’t just that the academic writing I do is influenced by the work I do in the classroom, even though I’ve put some version of this statement in nearly all of the 200ish academic job applications I’ve submitted. Here it is, right out of my mouth (er, fingers), in the job letter that led to my recently being hired as an Assistant Professor at Marylhurst University: “My research has considerable influence on my teaching.” To speak frankly, this line is bullshit, something I felt pressured to write by colleagues and in a half-dozen academic job search workshops.

And by “bullshit,” I don’t mean that what I said was false. I mean that the phrasing was disingenuous. Put simply, my research is my teaching. For me, the two practices are inextricable from one another. When I was finishing my PhD, I didn’t “teach to my dissertation” as so many academics recommend. My dissertation was born out of my teaching, out of interactions I had with students and out of my witnessing countless interactions between students.

It would be an oversimplification, though, to say just that my teaching is a source (or even the primary source) for my published writing. I would go even further than this to say that teaching itself has become, for me, my most important act of writing and publishing. There is a way in which I author myself and my work in the classroom, but I also produce countless tangible artifacts in the service of (or as part of) the act of teaching. The syllabi I publish to the web (like this or this) are an example, living documents that evolve over the term (and hopefully even after the term is over).

I will even go so far as to say that my syllabi are peer-reviewed, not only approved by the various department chairs I’ve worked for but also reviewed by the colleagues I share my work with and by the larger scholarly community that use (and sometimes cite) the work I’ve done. The syllabi I create also evolve through careful work with students (who I consider my closest learning community peers).

The scholarly work I produce in collaboration with students doesn’t stop there. I create class projects that have students working closely with each other and with me. In 2011, while teaching multimodal composition at GA Tech (a required course for Freshman), I had classes of 25 students working together to produce a short horror film. One student, Ben Lambeth, chose to continue working on his class’s film after the semester was over, and I worked with him as an assistant editor (not as his teacher but as an artistic collaborator). Here’s a preview for the finished film, Zombie Proof, and a short behind-the-scenes documentary about its creation. At the same time,  I also worked on GA Tech It Gets Better, a documentary film I co-produced with yet another former student, outside any assigned class project.

As I’ve continued to evolve as a scholar and teacher, I’ve become more and more concerned with thinking about ways to make what I do in the classroom and what I do in the safe confines of a word-processing window more public. The impetus for my scholarly work and publishing is to do my pedagogy in much larger and more open spaces. I teach, because I have to, because it’s in my bones. I write, because it allows me to teach more and to teach more people.

One way I’ve worked to bring my teaching and scholarly lives into closer public conversation is to have my CV and Teaching Portfolio exist alongside one another on my personal homepage. I’ve also begun publishing more about pedagogy and my teaching practices, something I’ve formalized through Hybrid Pedagogy. Finally, I force myself to build my scholarly writing out of the work I do in the classroom and to share my scholarly work in the classroom. This is particularly possible when I’ve taught writing, where I am able to work with my students as part of (not just facilitator of) a community of writers. It is students in writing classes I’ve taught, in fact, that I credit for the completion of my dissertation.

It’s important for me, as a teacher and scholar, to be open not just with my intellectual and pedagogical products but even more so with my academic process and pedagogical practices. This intention has been the driving force behind my most recent scholarly writing / pedagogical project, Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal on Teaching & Technology. An open-access networked journal, Hybrid Pedagogy creates meaningful connections between discussions of critical pedagogy, digital pedagogy, and online pedagogy. The journal also invites its audience to participate in (and be an integral part of) the peer review process, and thus makes transparent (and interrogates) academic publishing practices. In this way, Hybrid Pedagogy is a journal about pedagogy while also taking a pedagogical approach to publishing, by allowing its readers to peek behind the proverbial curtain of the publishing machine. In the wake of rapid changes in publishing, education, and technology, this kind of openness and transparency is becoming less and less an experimental indulgence and more and more a brunt necessity.

[Charlotte Frost’s companion-piece (“Pedagogy as Publishing”) offers a peek into the process of the creation and publishing of this article by Jesse and the one Charlotte wrote simultaneously for Hybrid Pedagogy.]


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